The Northern Ireland state has been a contested entity since its establishment in 1921. The longest period of consistent, and increasingly violent, opposition to the state emerged out of the suppression of the non-violent civil rights movement (19681971) and developed into a full-blown republican campaign, which was to last over the 25 years, from 1969 to 1994. The British Army was introduced on to the streets of the North in 1969, to both bolster the state and to counter the inter-communal clashes between the largely Protestant unionists and loyalists (who were committed to maintaining the union with Britain) and the predominantly Catholic nationalists and republicans. Loyalists were to join two main paramilitary organizations – the long-established Ulster Volunteer Force (UVF) and the Ulster Defence Association (UDA), giving rise to a three-cornered confrontation between republican and loyalist paramilitaries and the forces of the state (the British Army, the Royal Ulster Constabulary (RUC) and the Ulster Defence Regiment). By 1972, direct rule under the British government had been introduced and, with the hiatus of five months in 1974, was to remain in place until the restoration of a power-sharing Executive in December 1999. The instability of the Executive arrangement was to result in a stop-start direct rule interregnum until May 2007, when devolution was reinstated.